August 15, 2008
Vol. VIII, No. 7
"Cursed with a Passion for the Truth"
I stayed up late last night watching the Olympics to see the outcome of the gymnastics all-around event. It was a real nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat competition and well worth the lost sleep to witness the point-by-point unfolding of the results. This evening NBC replayed that gymnastics event, in condensed form and re-narrated. As I had already watched the competition, I didn't pay too much attention to it until I realized that the re-narration was relating the events of the competition in a very different way than they had transpired the previous night. I am not exaggerating when I say that I witnessed a rewriting of history before my very eyes.
I won't take the time to go into detail but if you saw both nights of Olympic coverage, you'll know what I'm talking about. The re-telling of events may stem from international political sensitivities, or it may simply be that the truth just isn't as important to us as it used to be. Maybe we've lost our passion for the truth and we're more interested in a good story. The media certainly knows that a good story sells so maybe they're willing to make some sacrifices to keep us entertained.
There's been a lot of talk the past couple of weeks about the American public being "badly misled" or "deliberately misled." I don't think the adverb matters. I think if you mislead someone it is usually both bad and deliberate although there is the occasional "unintentional misleading." I used to think that someone using the phrase "badly misled" was trying to avoid using the word "lied." Lately, I've started thinking that "misleading" is actually worse than lying. I don't know, maybe they're the same but it feels like misleading has an additional component of ill intentions.
It seems our weakness for a good story can extend into every aspect of our lives, including decisions revolving around our church organs. Do we really believe that a new pipe organ is too expensive or that we don't have room for one or that it would cost too much to fix the one we have? Or are we misled into that way of thinking by someone with a vested interest in or misinformed opinion of a "cheaper" alternative.
Do we want to hear the truth about what constitutes a good investment (of money AND time) or do we just want a tidy story that allows us to avoid getting our hands dirty. Put a band-aid on the issue and let someone else deal with it later. If that's the market you're in, there are plenty of salesmen out there who will gladly make your dreams come true. Are they lying, misleading or simply telling you what you want to hear?
What's important is the truth, regardless of the subject. When it comes to pipe organs, there's a certain kind of "truth in advertising" that I respect about the instrument. I just wish truth was as easy to find in other areas of our lives.
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